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MP Derek Sloan denies accusations of racism after criticizing Dr. Theresa Tam

“If anybody actually watches the video I put out, it has nothing to do with Dr. Theresa Tam’s ethnicity, background or gender,” MP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington Derek Sloan says in response to the accusations of racism after criticizing Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Teresa Tam’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has to do with decisions she made as the chief public health of officer of this country that were incorrect and furthered the spread of this pandemic,” he continues. Sloan says that she isn’t immune from criticism. “I hear from businesses every day that are on the brink of closure and I will do everything in my power to fight for them and fight for the citizens of this riding,” he says.

“#DerekSloanMustGo” trended as his criticisms made the rounds on social media, with some interpreting the letter as Sloan believing Dr. Tam works with China. “I’m not suggesting she has an alliance with another country,” he clarifies. “I’m saying she ignored information that as a public health officer, she should have been doing her due diligence.” He claims the racism allegations are mostly coming from the “mainstream media” which he says like to have “clickbait.” Sloan says Dr. Tam’s race has nothing to do with his comments.

Sloan points to Taiwan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying they made the changes necessary to fight the virus while Dr. Tam ignored the warnings. Sloan says the Taiwanese government listened to the warnings from Wuhan and, as of Friday morning, there are 428 COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, according to Google. Sloan says despite their close proximity to China, the low number of cases is a testament to their quick action. According to Taiwan Today, The Centers for Disease Control in the country began “stringent inspection measures” for inbound flights from Wuhan on December 31st. 

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“She made a lot of decisions that were simply incorrect and it’s right of me to bring that up,” Sloan says. “I’m not saying Dr. Tam made these decisions from bad motives, I’m just saying she didn’t look at all available evidence.” He says her decisions have “prolonged the pandemic.” Sloan adds that Dr. Tam should have been skeptical about the data she was getting from China.

Hastings County Warden Rick Phillips and CAO Jim Pine co-signed a letter that was sent to Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer calling the remarks by Sloan “cruel and racist” and call for him to be expelled from the party. Sloan says the letter is “premature and irresponsible.” He says that if County officials do not want to ask the tough questions, he will.

“We read it a different way,” Phillips says when reached for comment. “We wanted to make sure that it’s known that Mr. Sloan’s views are not that of Hastings County.” Phillips says he spoke with the 14 member municipalities on County council and they believe that was Sloan is saying does not reflect the County. 

The candidate to become the leader of the Conservative Party reiterated throughout the interview with the newsroom that he doesn’t believe Dr. Tam is working for China but does believe she’s using incorrect information. For that reason, he says he’s calling for her to resign or be fired. When asked who he would replace her with he says he “won’t give you the names of who that should be” but does say there are many well-educated doctors in Canada and it would be “very easy” to come up with a succession plan. 

“We don’t have weeks and months to wait,” Sloan says. “We need to take a look at what we’ve done wrong and how to improve.”

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